We wouldn’t be able to run our Minifigures business without our fantastic customers so we thought we would do a regular feature highlighting their Super Heroes collection and asking them a few questions. Thank you to agoodfella minifigs on Flickr for taking the time out to answer these questions:
What made you buy your first Super Heroes Custom Minifigure?
Every story has a beginning. My hobby traces its roots way back to when I was a kid. Ever since I can remember, I have always been a super hero / comic book fan, specifically MARVEL. X-Men was a particular favorite of mine (and still is) but the Avengers, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man were also right up there. It was a wondrous world that piqued my imagination with limitless possibilities and a unique sense of adventure fueled by incredible stories, unforgettable characters and amazing artwork. Fast forward many years later, and I have a family of my own and I have to credit my son and daughter who re-introduced me to the LEGO world. When the Super Heroes theme came out, I was hooked. The problem soon became very apparent – there were not nearly enough characters! As I began getting more involved with collecting, I soon discovered that Flickr had a vibrant LEGO community and I was also fascinated by the amount of customs and MOCs out there. This motivated me to step beyond the official line-up of figures (although I have collected every official LEGO MARVEL fig to date aside from a couple of SDCCs more on that later). When I discovered the incredible amount of fantastic custom printed figures out there, I knew my collection would start growing. Perhaps more importantly, I knew that my journey with super heroes would march on, only this time I would be able to share my lifelong adventure with my children.
With so many Super Heroes Custom Minifigures to choose from, picking a definitive top 5 is probably an impossible task. However which are some of your favourites and why?
It is so very hard to pick so few out of so many great minifigures. Some of my favorites in no particular order are: MRM’s Doctor Strange as it’s one of my first custom figs and still stands tall today – the design is clean and the colors are so vibrant. PCB’s Arachnid Hero (ASM2 Spidey) is one of my all-time favs, the silver webbing design is genius – it’s one of the rare cases where a custom is better than the official variant. Christo’s figs are some of the best out there and his custom hair pieces such as the Black Cat fig makes it unique and similarly NACM’s Black Panther’s custom cowl. OLS does some great non-mainstream characters including villains and his Hobgoblin is no exception. Then there are figs that use unique materials like MH80’s speckled transparent light blue Iceman. KO’s Teleporter with custom molded pieces certainly deserves a mention as well as EG’s Laser Beam (one of the first that incorporated arm, leg and side printing). And finally, although it might sound a bit impartial, our (agoodfella minifigs and bricks@raminator) Techno Girl is one of the figs in my collection that I am very proud to have.
When it comes to the different printing styles Pad Printed, Digital and UV Digital printing, which do you prefer?
There is a popular and prevailing view among many collectors that pad printing is the only way to go, but that doesn’t necessarily tell the entire story. Yes, pad printing looks the best as the printing (all else being equal) comes out clean and flush. Yes, pad printing comes as close as possible to the genuine article since this is the method that TLG uses. But there is an important consideration that comes with pad printing that your average consumer doesn’t always realize, and that consideration is simply cost. In an ideal world, a pad printed fig would have incredibly detailed designs, 360 degree printing and come in a kaleidoscope of colors – but how much would such a figure cost? That is why the best premium pad printers like Christo tend to do fantastic torso / head prints but may end up compromising with minimum (or no) leg / hip / arm printing or are limited to a couple of colors, or the ones with a full complement of printing across the entire figure will come to market at a significantly higher price point. With digital, your options to do leg / arm / side printing and multiple colors start to open up. Speaking now as a customizer rather than a customer, I can say that we (AMB@R) struggled with these cost / benefit issues before deciding to do a high quality UV digital print for our first 2 customs (Techno Girl and Dancing Queen). When the opportunity to do a pad print came along with Arachno Girl (as it doesn’t require multiple colors) we jumped at the chance to do our first pad print and the response has been fantastic – so clearly the demand for pad printing is certainly the highest, but there are always other things to consider (such as the amount of customization vs. price).
Do you have a favourite custom minifigure vendor or vendors?
Again, so many great customs and customizers out there. But for here are some of my favorites (very similar to fatcatpips):
Christo is in many ways (design, print quality, uniqueness of figs, etc.) the ultimate in custom figures, the crème de la crème.
OnlineSailin makes a very strong case as one of the best overall when you consider the “entire package” of 1) general design, 2) quality of printing, 3) variety and uniqueness of figs, 4) print coverage (side, arm, leg printing), 5) fig turnover (rate at which he is producing figs) and 5) reasonable price point.
Phoenix Custom Bricks is definitely one of the best and easily one of my favorites. His designs are always spot on, the colors are vibrant and the print quality is second to none. He has also been a kind supporter as we entered into custom figs and for that I am very grateful.
Muddy River Minifigs combines outstanding design, print quality and very reasonable price point. He has also done a fantastic job bringing to market unique characters such as Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, Agent Coulson, etc.
Credit should definitely be given to customizers that have produced some of the best figs to date but may not be quite as active nowadays, namely, EclipseGrafx, NACM, CustomBricks, SGP to name a few. Up and coming customizers such as KO Customs should definitely get some credit as well and there are high volume customizers such as Poppunkmunky who is producing some really great figs recently at a very accessible price point as well.
Do you have an opinion on the Chinese brands that have appeared over the last couple of years?
For me, it’s simple: my priority is to try and “assemble” the most complete MARVEL universe I can. As I mentioned in the beginning, I was a MARVEL fan long before my children re-introduced me to LEGO. This is also the reason I first got involved in making MOCs (for instance the Juggernaut MOC you kindly blogged on your site) — it is also the reason Ramon and I decided to create (and release) our first official custom figs. In summary, I don’t really discriminate.
Having said that, I would like to state for the record that I have the utmost respect for LEGO. They are the gold standard. I want to be very clear that I fully support LEGO (and consider myself a true blue AFOL) – and the proof is in the pudding, I own all of the official MARVEL figs (save for the exclusive SDCC figs). Now here is where it gets interesting. For collectors who are “completists” such as myself, I find myself in a bit of a conundrum if I really want to complete my collection with every single official MARVEL TLG figure. These “exclusive” figures are the issue (e.g. New York Toy Fair or SDCC). People simply cannot go directly to LEGO and “purchase” these figs as these are handed out in limited qualities at their respective conventions. The only option to acquire them is really quite simple: you are at the mercy of scalpers and the second hand market where some of these figs go for astronomical prices (in the hundreds of dollars, some almost half a grand!)
This is when I will gladly purchase an alternative SDCC variant – if they happen to be made by a Chinese maker (that may have lower print quality) – so be it. It’s a simple matter of supply / demand. Again, it’s not like I am giving them my business that would otherwise go directly to LEGO, I don’t have any other reasonable choice. LEGO could alleviate this situation by simply rotating the SDCC figs into general circulation – even if it is a full calendar cycle later, because the mere signal that the artificially low supply has a limited timetable would effectively reduce (if not eliminate) the overinflated prices which go directly into scalper’s pockets. The current situation is one where there are no winners (except for the lucky few who can attend these conventions and are able to snag some swag and, of course, the scalpers). Everyone else is “excluded”. In a nutshell, that is what has happened with these “exclusives”. There is a better way.
The other point about Chinese products (particularly in the context of its impact on LEGO) is that I simply don’t necessarily buy the argument that this takes away from the appeal or the bottom line at TLG. On the contrary, I have argued that this brings greater overall “awareness” of the real thing and that people will ultimately aspire to purchase the genuine article at some stage. Those who stick to buying only the Chinese products would not have received TLG’s business anyway, and in fact, I contend that over time, there will be far more buyers of those products that convert to TLG buyers at some point than vice versa — so in the end, ironically, the pie gets bigger not smaller for TLG.
As a final point, the one area where Chinese makers have made welcome moves is when they introduce unique designs such as the Future Foundation sets, the Thing big fig, Groot big fig, several unique Iron Man Marks (MCU) which no one has produced – these are all fantastic additions to any collection.
Finally, as a regular customer to Minifigures.co.uk would you recommend us to your friends?
Absolutely. In fact, as you well know, one of my very first custom purchases was through your site when I bought NACM’s awesome Wasp custom figure. I have purchased multiple items and figs from you over the years and I can say with zero hesitation that prospective buyers can shop at your site with full confidence, I know I do!
Thank you for letting me share my story. Excelsior!
A big thanks again to agoodfella minifigs for an amazing interview and be sure to check out our Custom Minifigures Shop.